NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Bill

[back to previous text]

Mr. Hutton: I will reply to some of the points made by the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) shortly. On public health, he may have missed my earlier attempt to clarify those points. I hope that he will not take offence, but I will send him a copy of my earlier remarks rather than attempt to repeat them. There may be video too, but he would not want to watch that.

On both sides of the Committee, there must be a sense of deja vu about these debates. The hon. Member for West Chelmsford is probably right to say that in opposition my colleagues have tabled similar amendments to those tabled today. During every Bill for which I have ever had responsibility in Committee, amendments have been tabled that seek to do broadly what the hon. Gentleman has tried to do.

I say to the Committee, and particularly to the hon. Member for West Chelmsford—he dealt with similar arguments as a Minister—that my job is to strike the right balance between order-making powers that should be subject to affirmative procedures because of the issues that they raise and those issues that can be dealt with by negative procedures. It is legitimate for hon. Members to disagree with that, but it would wrong for the hon. Gentleman to imply that because I have made a decision on such powers my motive is to sideline Parliament or ignore the parliamentary process to get what I want in a back-handed way. That would not be true.

I have always tried to discharge that aspect of my responsibility to the best of my ability. I recognise the responsibilities that we have to Parliament, to the House and to the democratic process, which we all hold dear. I do not appreciate the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that these clauses have been cobbled together in a deliberate attempt to sideline Parliament because that is not the case.

However, I welcome the hon. Gentleman's new-found role as guardian of the constitution, and he performed it well. It is also appropriate for us to point out what he rightly described as some inconsistencies. This is not all one-way traffic and although he might like a polite veil to be drawn over the record of the Administration in which he served, I am not prepared to do that.

In the context of these debates, it is necessary to compare and contrast. It is perfectly reasonable for me to make the point that if the hon. Gentleman were standing in my shoes—admittedly, it would be a different Bill—I doubt whether he would have drawn the line between affirmative and negative resolutions in any place other than where this Bill has drawn it. It is a question of balance and judgment, and Ministers are accountable in that regard. If the hon. Gentleman were to have ministerial responsibility again, I very much doubt whether his conversion would be translated into action such as that proposed in the amendment.

I should draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to one other point about the amendment that explains why I am unable to accept it. As I understand it, it would require that affirmative resolution procedures be followed in relation to any order to vary the establishment orders, including any order that transfers staff, property, rights or liabilities under this provision. The Opposition Whip, the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson), is present, as is the Government Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Jim Fitzpatrick), and it is incumbent on us as Members of the House to consider whether it is a sensible use of our time to make such matters subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. As the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon rightly said, this is not a die in the ditch issue, and I am sure that in his heart of hearts the hon. Member for West Chelmsford probably realises that. On this occasion, he has chosen the wrong issue about which to make such points.

There is a sense of ritual familiarity about these arguments, and I do not dispute the passion with which the hon. Gentleman holds his views on the constitutional propriety of this or any other point that he has made, but this was the wrong issue to which to address his concerns. As I have said, the clause deals with the negative resolution procedure in a sensible way and I hope that my hon. Friends will support that view and reject the amendment.

Mr. Burns: I have listened to the Minister's comments and, naturally, I am disappointed. I thought that, like a number of sinners, he might feel that he could repent, but it is clear that he is not prepared to do so on this occasion. Regrettably, therefore, this is a missed opportunity. I am being in no way derogatory, but the Minister seemed a little sensitive to the apparent suggestion that he was seeking to sideline Parliament. I might so accuse a number of his colleagues, but I would not aim that accusation against him on a personal basis.

Mr. Hutton: I did not assume that the hon. Gentleman was making personal comments.

Mr. Burns: I am grateful to the Minister for that reassurance. Although I am disappointed that he is not prepared to accept the amendment, I do not wish to press it to a Division at this stage. I should like first to read the official record, reflect on what the Minister has said and consider our position.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Chairman, being of the opinion that the principle of the clause and any matters arising thereon had been adequately discussed in the course of debate on the amendments proposed thereto, forthwith put the Question, pursuant to Standing Orders Nos. 68 and 69, That the clause stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 9, Noes 6.

Division No. 3]

AYES
Burnham, Andy
Challen, Mr. Colin
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Havard, Mr. Dai
Hutton, Mr. John
Moffat, Laura
Thomas, Gareth
Touhig, Mr. Don
Ward, Ms Claire

NOES
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Baron, Mr. John
Burns, Mr. Simon
Harris, Dr. Evan
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Taylor, Dr. Richard

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 1

English Health Authorities: change of name

6.15 pm

Mr. Hutton: I beg to move amendment No. 95, in page 47, line 5, at end insert—

    ``In section 125 (protection of members and officers of authorities), before paragraph (a) there is inserted—

    `(za) a Strategic Health Authority;'.''.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take Government amendment No. 96.

Mr. Hutton: I acknowledge that the amendments are extensive, but they are technical and minor. They simply tidy up loose ends to ensure that references to health authorities in a wide variety of statutes are fully reflected in the Bill. I can assure the Committee that they raise no substantive policy issues.

Mr. Burns: I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation. I am not a lawyer, but it seems even to me that the amendments are heavily technical. I have one question. Why have they been tabled now rather than being included in the Bill when it was published? Is it simply because some events have moved on, creating a new need, or was there an error at the time, leaving them genuinely forgotten? Such things often happen in the drafting of legislation.

Mr. Hutton: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not expect me to say that they were forgotten.

Mr. Burns: They could have been.

Mr. Hutton: They were not forgotten, they were just not spotted. There are dozens and dozens of references to health authorities in previous legislation. The Committee might be interested to know that we are here amending a piece of legislation dating back to 1875, the Public Health Act of that year. It is interesting, for those of us who like parliamentary history, to think that the House is amending legislation that our predecessors made in 1875.

The amendments are technical. We had a choice, because had we found the need to make these changes later, we could have done so using orders under clause 37. We are trying, however, to ensure that the Committee is involved in changes, so we tabled amendments, rather than using a later order-making power.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 96, in page 47, line 43, at end insert—

    ``Part 2

    Amendments of other acts

    The Reserve and Auxiliary Forces (Protection of Civil Interests) Act 1951 (c. 65)

    In Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces (Protection of Civil Interests) Act 1951 (which makes provision about payments to make up civil remuneration), in paragraph 15—

    (a) in the entry in the first column, before `a Health Authority' there is inserted `a Strategic Health Authority,', and

    (b) in the entry in the second column, before `Health Authority' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authority,'.

    The Hospital Complaints Procedure Act 1985 (c. 42)

    In section 1 of the Hospital Complaints Procedure Act 1985 (hospital complaints procedure), in subsection (1)—

    (a) for `Health Authority and' there is substituted `Strategic Health Authority and Health Authority, to each', and

    (b) after `which that' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authority,'.

    The Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 (c. 33)

    (1) The Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 is amended as provided in this paragraph.

    (2) In section 7 (persons discharged from hospital), in subsection (9), in paragraph (a) of the definition of `the managers', after `means the' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authority,'.

    (3) In section 16 (interpretation), after the definition of `statutory services' there is inserted—

    ```Strategic Health Authority'' means a Strategic Health Authority established under section 8 of the 1977 Act;'.

    The National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 (c. 19)

    The National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 is amended as follows

    In section 4 (NHS contracts), in subsection (2), before paragraph (a) there is inserted—

    `(za) a Strategic Health Authority;'.

    In section 4A (provision of certain services by persons on ophthalmic or pharmaceutical lists), in subsection (1), after `under which' there is inserted `a Strategic Health Authority,'

    In section 8 (transfer of property, rights and liabilities to NHS trusts), before `Health Authority', in each place where it occurs, there is inserted `Strategic Health Authority,'

    In section 21 (schemes for meeting losses and liabilities of certain health service bodies)—

    (a) in subsection (2), before paragraph (a) there is inserted—

    `(za) Strategic Health Authorities;', and

    (b) in each of subsections (3), (4) and (5), before `Health Authority' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authority,'.

    In section 49 (transfer of staff from health service to local authorities), in subsection (4)(b), after `means a' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authority,'

    In section 60 (removal of Crown immunities), in subsection (7)(a), at the beginning there is inserted `a Strategic Health Authority or'

    In Schedule 2 (which makes provision about NHS trusts)—

    (a) in each of paragraphs 4(1), 4(2), 5(3), 13, 30(2) and 31, before `Health Authority' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authority,', and

    (b) in paragraph 30(1), after paragraph (a) there is inserted—

    `(aa) a Strategic Health Authority, or'.

    The Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 (c. 46)

    In section 2 of the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 (bodies subject to investigation), in subsection (1), for paragraph (a) there is substituted—

    `(a) Strategic Health Authorities,'.

    The 1999 Act

    The 1999 Act is amended as follows

    In section 20 (functions of the Commission for Health Improvement)—

    (a) in subsection (1)(c), before `Health Authorities' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authorities,', and

    (b) in subsection (7), in the definition of `NHS body', after `means a' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authority,'.

    In section 21 (arrangements with the Audit Commission), in subsection (1)(b)(iii), after `relate to' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authorities,'

    In section 26 (co-operation between NHS bodies), after `duty of' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authorities,'

    In section 28 (plans for improving health etc)—

    (a) in subsection (6)—

    (i) in paragraphs (b) and (g), before `Health Authorities' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authorities,', and

    (ii) in paragraph (h), after `provision by' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authorities,', and

    (b) in subsection (9), after `duty of' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authorities,'.

    In section 31 (arrangements between NHS bodies and local authorities), in subsection (8), in the definition of `NHS body', after `means a' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authority,'

    In section 61 (English and Scottish border provisions), in subsection (2), for `Health Authority' there is substituted `Strategic Health Authority'

    The Health and Social Care Act 2001 (c. 15)

    (1) The Health and Social Care Act 2001 is amended as provided in this paragraph.

    (2) In section 7 (functions of overview and scrutiny committees), in subsection (4), after `means a' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authority,'.

    In section 46 (directed partnership arrangements), in subsection (5), in the definition of `NHS body', after `means a' there is inserted `Strategic Health Authority,'.''.—[Mr. Hutton.]

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2

Primary Care Trusts

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

 
Previous Contents Continue

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries ordering index


©Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 27 November 2001